tv [untitled] June 25, 2012 12:00pm-12:30pm PDT
supervisor kim: in order to allow the apartments to be here. here's our city attorney, mr. mr. herrera. >> thank you. i imagine that the budget analyst put forth there recommendation? >>supervisor kim: we ask for recommendations and then we get the budget analyst response. >> thank you. we will have discussion and answer some question from last week and get clarification, particularly as it relates to supervisor cohen and supervisor
kim. i want to follow-up on things they focused on. as you know, we did not agree with the budget analyst recommendations. we have been working on cuts that will allow my office to meet our core mission, and we came up with approximately $250,000 in cuts would to see reflected in the report. we disagree with the budget analyst policy recommendation. a bit like to focus on -- we were differing over essentially two decisions. the number we agree with reflects money that we found over the course of the last
week in an effort to bridge a gap. unfortunately, we find in this report is on top of that $220,000 number we came up with, and the policy recommendation, assuming there's still a recommendation, the concern is we not be granted that one legal assistant position. first, supervisors cohen and kim were interested in the code enforcement process. is a revenue-generating -- it is a revenue-generating mechanism. there are a variety of city agencies that are charged with enforcement of municipal code
governing. last week, we had discussion with respect to the department of building inspection. i want to make clear this is a citywide responsibility. we worked very hard with public health, planning, and police. last week, much discussion took place, and only after the client agency completed the administrative process did they turn to the office for enforcement and possible litigation. once it has completed the process, there is no further remedy for the agency. once there has been a referral to the city attorney's office, the client bills for services
and will generally investigate the underlying allegations and appropriate mitigation. some matters may resolve short of litigation. i would like to say over the course of the last five years, this has been an incredibly important program for generating city revenue, while reflecting the policy priority of the board of supervisors to make sure that we are reaching out on behalf of the citizens of the city of san francisco. more specifically, in the period of 2007 to 2012, the city attorney's office has negotiated judgments of parts of $12 million. the amounts collected on those judgments is approximately $8
million. the cost of litigating is $4 million. so, it was a worthwhile investment on behalf of the residents of the city and county of san francisco and we are happy with our efforts. the code enforcement program generates revenue consistent with future code enforcement efforts. however, money must be invested in the investigations and cases must be referred to the city attorney's office upon the exhaustion of administrative remedies. from our perspective, what we find is municipal codes are not enforced and send a message that the city tolerates public nuisances. is our opinion that we send the message loud and clear that we except the residents will do whatever they can to make sure they are not creating public nuisances in there -- in their
respective neighborhoods. we are trying to expand our code out reach efforts. it is vital to code enforcement that the residents of the city and county understand how to report potential code violations and understand how enforcement is carried out by the city. that is why we tried to establish various forms of out reach, which we think have been incredibly helpful. for example, we have a city attorney hot line. we have community meetings attended by the city attorney for the deputy city attorney. we have created a new application -- up to code app -- which will soon be available to the public. is a brand new smart phone
application that will make it easier for the citizens of san francisco to code -- to track code violations in the city. madam chair, you had some questions with respect to internships. you asked about work opportunities for youth. i told you last week the vast majority of opportunities in our office are four law students. that is in fact true. i do want to expand a little bit because i know it is of interest to your. of program does include undergraduate students and high school students and our law student volunteers received work study credits. we are working with political science and public policy programs, most specifically at the university of san francisco, and we have heard -- we have
three or four graduates every year. we take from existing internship programs and the organizations we work with are generally san francisco youth works, which reaches out to try and find available candidates from a variety of high school programs throughout san francisco. supervisor kim, you asked a little bit about the line-item with respect to professional services. i wanted to clarify something i said earlier because i may have misspoke. you asked about the line-item in our budget entitled " professional services." the amount for professional services is about $230,000. last week i misspoke about which services are paid through that line item. i described to you fees for messengers, court reporters, experts, and other costs. these items are not paid for with the professional services
line item, but instead through the litigation expense line item, because i can bill them through each particular case. the distinction is if it is not tied to a specific case, it falls under the litigation expense item. if it is a general item that we can only account for -- such as ergonomic violations, office repair, i.t. -- those are encompassed within that $230,000 professional services item. the other services are referred to which we apply directly to a case and bill to a client our litigation-related and fall under the litigation expense line item. that relates to all litigation, whether it be muni, puc.
in general, we spend about $6 million spread across the city. it relates to our work order the apartments and our general fund components -- departments and our general fund components. i hope that answers your question more specifically. one thing that you will see -- i do have a disagreement with the budget analyst -- is with respect to the item we talked about where i requested five new positions where they were linked mainly to the redevelopment agency and with respect to an expansion that i want to have for the establishment of the consumer protection unit. that is where we continue to have a disagreement with the budget analyst. i want to go into a little bit so you understand why i believe
this is important. there is one analyst for the consumer protection unit. they are funded entirely through penalties obtained by my office for consumer protection cases. i just want to give you a quick background about the authority i have to sue on behalf of the people of the state of san francisco. the people that have the authority to sue on behalf of the people of california are the attorney general, four city attorney's -- only four city attorneys in the state have the authority. san jose, san diego, los angeles, and me. we do work with the district attorney and we coordinate with other municipal agencies to make
sure we are pursuing cases better in the public interest. but to be clear, there are huge responsibilities. and so, there are very few city attorney's that actively pursue consumer litigation to the extent that san francisco has. if you look at where we have been able to make some of our most ground-breaking impacts, it is through cases we have developed on our own. the amount of litigation we pursue depends on what we do. my office has funded a litigation program to the tune of $6 million per year for the general fund. last year, because of settlements obtained by my office, which contributed -- we
took responsibility away from the general fund -- and we contributed about $1.6 million from that $2.7 million. the next year, again, we were contributing $1.8 million, an increase of about $375,000 to fund two dedicated positions. these moneys are restricted. the purposes of state law are for the exclusive purposes of the state attorney to enforce consumer protection laws. my ambition is to expand our program and make it a larger interagency effort. we will work with other agencies such as dph. we already work with these agencies. some of these cases you may know about are those like to our car
wash -- tower car wash, where we went after them for there longstanding business practices that denied a full and fair wage to there employees -- their employees. i anticipate that by dedicating one attorney and one legal assistant to coordinate this effort will result in better communication, better use of city resources, and my hope is this small investment will have brought in additional penalties that will fund and expand the program, similar to what we have done with our existing resources in our code enforcement efforts through the last five fiscal years. i just come back to saying this, supervisors. we find what we do.
i continue to be willing to do it. i think there is nothing but false savings if you cut those positions. that money is not going anywhere else. i can guarantee it will lead to accountability, because if i am wrong, which i don't think i am, i too will have the opportunity to judge me by the results that i deliver. you will be accountable for this small investment. thank you, supervisors. supervisor chu: thank you. we do have a question. supervisor kim? supervisor kim: you to agree
with this above the policy recommendation? >> yes. that number was not there last week. it's what i put forward to reach a good settlement. i still want to go forward on that. i just disagree with the pollyanna -- with the policy analyst. supervisor kim: the money listed as the potential general fund safety, you're saying that is not. that is typically allocated to you through the consumer protection fund? >> that is correct. if you don't approve the positions, that money is restricted. supervisor chu: ok. that is a point of clarification. you are bringing in fees or penalties or money that comes in for the purpose of $1.5 million?
correct? >> no, that's incorrect, supervisor. let me tell you. there are two points. last year, i received settlements of $1.6 million, and in my effort to contribute to the general fund, i said, you know what? i will find $1.6 million. i will find that out of the penalties that i receive. so, you can take that away and you can use that for something -- not of better use, but i understand you have a budget situation and you can use it for something else. this year, i continue to do that. the mayor's office is continuing to fund -- in there proposal --
i'm already paying $1.9 million out of the city attorney's budget. what is it? about $800,000. historically, -- yes, that's right. that was me taking the responsibility of the general fund that had previously been there. supervisor chu: thank you. if i understand correctly, $2.7 million in general litigation expenses generally, and in the past, you have seen $1.6 million applied for the general fund express -- expense generally? >> they don't come in with a great deal of predictability. it depends on what it is.
whether we have a good year or not, right? i will tell you there are some years where it's more. last year, i had a sufficient settlement to think that i had at least $1.6 million when that number was funded. i can tell you more recently, i have brought in even more money, and that is restricted. i cannot get to the general fund, i can only spend that on behalf of the enforcement protection efforts. for example, we brought in $5 million for faulty arbitrations, but that can only be used for my purposes. >> and only for the current year? the $5 million settlement? >> yes, that's what funding the
$1.8 million for the two years. supervisor chu: ok. for the two additional positions, one is an attorney position and the other is a paralegal and that would expand your affirmative litigation budget, correct? >> it would be within our affirmative litigation responsibilities. >> wouldn't let go to the budget analyst? >> madam chair, members of the committee, yes. >> no, it would not. hold on. >> we can clarify that, if you would like, madam chair. our statement is it is not. >> because of the demands of other areas, they have been moving the attorneys to do other
work. this would be a dedicated attorney and paralegal. that would stay in that affirmative consumer protection unit. however, if they took the existing affirmative litigation back and used them and dedicated them to the consumer protection activity instead of the demands that they are able to move people from affirmative litigation, then there would be general funds savings. supervisor chu: thank you. >> i beg to differ with the budget analyst. the fact of the matter is, our affirmative litigation budget for lawyers deals with issues that, unfortunately, we talk about ada litigation, other responsibilities that the
general fund increasingly looks to the city attorney's office to fill. you look at how general fund contribution has been reduced over the course of the last five years and fiscal year 2006-2007, we received a $10.5 million general fund contribution, where last year, we would all the way up to $5 million. supervisors, you know, because you see my budget reports to you on your behalf. city attorneys are doing more and more and more with less and less and less. we take on more general fund responsibilities. i'm looking at ways to take that away from the general fund, and that's exactly what these positions are designed to do, so
you can also see results and hold it accountable for what we are doing. i think is something important and in the public interest. supervisor chu: just a question. it's either general fund or it's not. can you provide clarity on what it is? >> supervisors, we would be happy to take a look at the specifics of that settlement, but of course, we don't have information to answer your question directly. we are happy to do homework on it. supervisor chu: ok. >> frankly, as i understand ms.
newman's statement, and she will correct me, even if the funding source is restricted, that the city attorney's office in essence has the authority to reassign its staff to that work, pulling them off of other general fund work to free a general fund money. i understand that to be the budget analysts statement. >> supervisors, it all sounds great in theory. just pull city attorney's office and do other things. i can tell you, that is easier said than done when you look at the fact that our general fund contribution has been reduced by over $5 million over the last five years and we are being asked to do more and more. now let me just say something else. and that is, in an attempt to recognize something, and i don't know if ms. howard is here --
she is here -- i'm sorry, the budget analysts report, and there was some discussion about how these conditions were not requested in the mayor's budget. i want to clarify things, because that's not true. if you go back and look at our february submission, we talked in very general terms about our desire to create this unit. we didn't going to be exact details, because i want to have a conversation with the mayor's office about how we can settle the money to accomplish our goals, but also take money off the general fund. in concept, the mayor's office would be in agreement with the proposal. they want to see how it all works out. from my perspective, what i wanted to see was a greatly expanded unit where i could
defray costs to the olse to help us investigate these cases, where i would be able to pay for the services i could a tribute to these cases and take that responsibility of the general fund. understandably, the mayor's office wanted to see how this would all play out. and the compromise that we reached it was -- which i thought was too small, but i was willing to work with them -- i said i would be willing to take an attorney and a paralegal because i am so confident in what we do. there's more money sitting there that no one else can use. the assistance we're getting from other general fund
responsibilities -- i can pay for those myself. and that's what i want to do. supervisor wiener: i just want to be sure i understand the budget analyst's explanation here. the staffing could be diverted from general funds to this unit without hiring the positions as proposed by the city attorney? >> des moines understanding from the discussion with the city attorney -- my understanding from the discussion with the city attorney is they have been moving from affirmative litigation to do other city attorney responsibilities. what they need is an additional attorney and paralegal to be dedicated within the affirmative litigation unit to consumer protection.
what i am suggesting is taking the existing attorney and paralegal and dedicating them to the consumer protection unit, which would be the dedicated funding. instead of taking them away to do other demands, because it is acknowledged these two other positions are an expansion. supervisor wiener: right. but by pulling people off of other responsibilities, that could be taking them off the trial team, evaluating whichever department? >> that is correct. but that is what has been happening here for. i would also note that is discussed in our recommendations. it is an expansion. it is an expansion. as you know, in the department